Sunday, March 24, 2013

IDF Essay Contest, Topic: “OUR GOAL IS A TB FREE WORLD”



“Prevention is better than cure”.  As the proverb says, it is always better to take prevention instead of curing.  Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease usually affecting the lungs (pulmonary TB).  It also affects other body parts, like; lymph nodes, kidneys, bones, joints etc. Tuberculosis cases (extra pulmonary TB) are reported every year with New York leading the list,approximately 1300 yearly cases.  Tuberculosis can affect anyone of any age.  Usually, people with weakened immune systems are at increased risk.  Tuberculosis is spread through the air when a person with untreated pulmonary TB coughs or sneezes.  
The symptoms of TB include:
  • Low grade fever
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss and
  • Persistent cough 

However, there are many treatments for tuberculosis. People with latent TB infection should be evaluated for a course of preventive therapy, which usually includes taking anti tuberculosis medication for several months. People with active TB disease must complete a course of treatment for six months or more.  Initial treatment includes at least 4 anti TB drugs; and medications may be altered based on laboratory test results.  Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) programs are recommended for all TB patients to help them complete their therapy.  An untreated TB patient may become severely ill or die.  

The most important way to stop the spread of tuberculosis is that TB patients’ mouth and nose should be covered while coughing/sneezing, and to take all the TB medicine exactly as prescribed by the physician.  Instead of reacting against tuberculosis after it attacks us, it is better to take preventive measures in reducing the number of cases of tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis prevention and control efforts primarily rely on the vaccination of infants and the detection and appropriate treatment of active cases.  The WHO has achieved some success with improved treatment regimen. The only currently available vaccine as of 2013 or before is Bacilli ChalmetteGuerin (BCG). BCG is effective against disseminated disease in childhood and confers inconsistent protection against contracting pulmonary TB.  

A number of new vaccines are currently in development. The WHO declared TB “A global health emergency”.  In 1993 and in 2006, the Stop TB Partnership developed a global plan to stop Tuberculosis that aims to save 14 million lives between its launch and 2015.  A number of targets they have set are not likely to be achieved by 2015, mostly due to the increase in HIV – associated tuberculosis and the emergence of multiple drug resistant tuberculosis.  

A tuberculosis classification system developed by the American Thoracic Society is used in primary health programs.  The recommended treatment of new onset of pulmonary tuberculosis, as of 2010, is six months of a combination of antibiotics for the first two months. If tuberculosis recurs,testing to determine to which antibiotics it is sensitive is important before determining treatment. Primary resistance occurs when a person become infected with a resistant strain of TB.  

A person with fully susceptible TB may develop secondary (acquired) resistance during therapy because of inadequate treatment, not taking the prescribed regimen appropriately (lack of compliance) or using low quality medication.

Drug resistant TB is a serious public health issue in many developing countries, as its treatment is longer and expensive. Extensively Drug - Resistant TB is resistant to three or more of the six classes of second line drugs.  Totally Drug - Resistant TB, which was first observed in 2003 in Italy, but not widely reported until 2012, is resistant to all currently used drugs.

So, as citizens, let’s join hands and pledge to reduce the cases of tuberculosis and remove it completely from the world and prevent it from spreading.  Let’s spread this message to each and everyone to succeed in our mission.  Without the people’s support and cooperation, this seems to be impossible.  So, I request each one of you to contribute for this, in some way or the other, and help in making a TB free world.

Abhinand Vinodh, IX-B, Air Force School (ASTE), 
Murugeshpalya  Camp, Bangalore

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